Wearing shorts and a tee shirt and driving a pickup truck, John McNamara looks right at home among the locals in tiny Aynor, South Carolina. He only starts looking slightly out-of-place when you start paying attention to the details. His pickup has a Connecticut license plate, and his voice, while pleasant, seriously lacks “twang.”
Fortunately for the economy of Aynor, Vice President of Sales and Administration McNamara is one of 20 PTR Industries employees that relocated to Horry County to build their version of the G3-style roller-locked rifle after Connecticut passed an ill-considered, poorly crafted raft of gun control legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre.
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PTR Industries, as we now know it, almost didn’t exist.
Jose Diaz, who founded JLD Enterprises, purchasing blueprints and tooling from Fabrica Militar of Portugal, and began building PTR-91 rifles that were based upon the Heckler & Koch G3/HK91 rifle system. Early rifles were built from a combination of JLD manufactured parts and military surplus parts kits. The JLD-manufactured rifles had a high degree of parts commonality with the original HK91.
Mr. Diaz knew the gun-building side of the equation very well, but had problems as a businessman. He borrowed money from his landlord, Everett Weed, and to forgive Diaz’s debt, Weed took a controlling interest in the company. Diaz stayed on for a number of years before leaving in 2010. The company, known as PTR Industries since 2005, then shifted from being an assembly based company into becoming a true manufacturer.
Things were going well for the company on December 14, 2012, and PTR CEO Josh Fiorini was about to have a meeting with an architect to discuss expansion plans when news of the unfolding attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School some 30 miles away began flooding the local airwaves.
He cancelled the meeting with the architect, and like the rest of the gun industry based out of Connecticut’s famed “gun valley,” PTR prepared to weather the coming political storm that they were sure was headed their way.
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The receiver flat that becomes the serialized part that the government recognizes as the gun doesn’t start out looking like much. It’s just an irregularly shaped piece of metal in a large stack of similar parts, until these parts start flowing through a series of steps on this relatively simply stamping machine.